“That’s where the magic happens for me”: Jason Isbell says this is the first thing you should do when buying a new guitar

The musician and guitar collector shares some valuable advice in a new interview with GibsonTV.

Jason Isbell playing the guitar

Image: Erika Goldring / Getty Images

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Here’s the first thing you should do when getting a new guitar, according to singer-songwriter and avid six-string collector Jason Isbell.

In a recent chat with GibsonTV, the musician shares one valuable piece of advice for players – particularly inexperienced ones – who are looking to buy a new electric guitar, saying, “Anytime somebody asks me, ‘What’s the most important thing about buying a guitar?’ if they’re not a guitar collector or someone who has played for a long time. Get it set up – spend the extra 50 bucks and get it professionally set up.”

“Because how many people didn’t have that option in the ’50s and ’60s and thought, this Les Paul Junior is a terrible guitar… because the frets aren’t level or the intonation is off.”

“That’s where the magic happens for me,” Isbell adds. “For a guitar that somebody else might not have realised it’s a good guitar so they put it under the bed for 30 or 40 years.”

And when asked to name the guitar he’d bring with him if he had to take only one to a gig, Isbell replies, “probably the 335,” pointing to the first vintage 1961 Sunburst Gibson he bought from producer Dave Cobb.

“Recently we did a show up here at just a little restaurant bar in the neighbourhood and I brought a bunch of guitars for other people to play – I brought the old Gold Top and an old Strat for my friends to play.”

“But for me I just played the 335 all night with the [Marshall JTM45] Bluesbreaker and the Rangemaster and just used my volume knobs. And you can do any style, anything and it plays so easy that ’61 neck. It’s kind of flat – it’s wide enough but thin and wide. You can do anything with it.”

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